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NFL Combine 2017: Colts-centered Thursday notebook

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine continued today with plenty of things going on, including the first round of media availability for prospects, as well as more media availability from coaches and general managers. Here’s our Colts-centered recap of what went on at the Combine on Thursday:

Chuck Pagano meets with the media

From a Colts perspective, the top story of the day was that head coach Chuck Pagano spoke with the media for the first time since January 2, the day after the regular season ended. To be completely honest, there wasn’t much that we learned from Pagano’s press conference - perhaps the biggest takeaway was that he doesn’t have his earmuffs and blinders on right now in the offseason as he looks at what he can improve on... but they’ll return for the regular season. Overall, Pagano’s press conference was filled with a lack of specific questions and, therefore, a lack of specific answers. He did talk about the defense, however, and admitted that it’s not where they want to be yet - with an emphasis on the “yet.” His comments did give the impression that there will be defensive change this year, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

Andy Reid, John Dorsey talk about Chris Ballard

This one happened over the past two days and not just today, but Chiefs GM John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid both were asked about Chris Ballard, the former Chiefs director of player personnel who’s now the GM of the Colts. Ballard speaks highly of the two, and that feeling is mutual.

“He’s a wonderful man,” Dorsey said today about Ballard. “He is energetic, he’s smart, he understands the system that we run in Kansas City -- he gets that, he’s a very good evaluator, he’s an excellent communicator and you guys got a good man. He’s a family man who’s passionate and loves the game of football. He’s like a brother to me and I wish him the best of luck.”

Reid spoke yesterday, but he too was asked about Ballard.

“I think you got a good one,” Reid said. “I was also good friends with [Ryan] Grigson and think the world of him too. [Ballard] just came from our building, obviously, and he’ll bring great energy. Not only is he a good manager, but he’s a good evaluator. He’s also a straight shooter. It may not always be what you want to hear, but he’s going to tell you the truth. He’ll also work hard for you. The Colts are in a good position with him.”

Reid and Ballard had the chance to catch up yesterday at the Combine, too:

You’ll notice that Andy Reid mentioned that he was a fan of Ryan Grigson too, and he was also asked whether he thinks there’s still work for Grigson to do in the NFL. “Absolutely,” Reid replied. “Ryan will get another opportunity if he chooses to do that -- which I’m sure he will. He’s passionate about it.”

Colts meeting with players

One of the things that’s really worth paying attention to at the Combine are the players the Colts meet with, as they get 60 formal interviews with prospects. These aren’t neccessarily the team’s top 60 prospects, but at the same time they can give us at least a sense of who the Colts might be interested in. So far, we’ve heard of two of the meetings the Colts have lined up: Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and USC guard Damien Mama. Some other players mentioned that they’ve met with pretty much every team, while some players simply weren’t asked about it - so, in other words, this isn’t a comprehensive list. But by the end of the Combine we should have a pretty good list with at least several of the guys the Colts will have met with.

Cam Robinson getting advice from Ryan Kelly

Alabama tackle Cam Robinson is at the Combine this week, hoping to make a good impression on NFL teams. To prepare for the week of events and get an idea of what to expect, Robinson said that he’s spoken with former Alabama teammate and current Colts center Ryan Kelly. “I just talked to Ryan Kelly yesterday,” he said today. “He gave me the rundown on what to expect from the combine. He told me how to go about handling the process. It can get strenuous. A lot of guys wish they could be here. You have to realize how blessed you are.”

Christian McCaffrey has been training with Brandon Stokley

I believe this has been out there for a while now, but I just heard about it today: Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey has been training with Brandon Stokley, the longtime NFL wideout who played 15 seasons, including four with the Colts (where he had by far the best year of his career, a 68-catch, 1,077 yard, 10 touchdown campaign in 2004). “He's a heck of a mentor,” McCaffrey said today. “Just picking his brain on a lot of slot stuff, a lot of release work. Stuff like that has really helped me.”